Organizing weddings can be very exhausting both physically and mentally. For that, love birds deserve a honeymoon in a peaceful setting with elements that help one recharge their batteries. Diani is one such place. It is a coastal reef where the majestic Indian Ocean meets the land of warrior nomads. This 10 kilometer resort found roughly 30 kilometers South of Mombasa is famed for two things:
- For emerging as the Best Beach Destination of 2014 as awarded by World Travel Awards.
- For having white sand and lush greenery.
Here are things to do at this heaven among havens
Breakfast by the Beach
A great honeymoon day starts with a healthy breakfast in a dreamy setting. You can start your day by waking up to a morning feast at the beach as the sun arises from the horizon. The tickling sensation of waves lapping your toes will leave you laughing senseless. Spending time here is a great way to fill your lungs with oceanic freshness, as the breeze sweeps away your worries. If you love keeping fit, you could welcome the new dawn by jogging along the beach. It’s a guaranteed way of seeing the different marine species before they are swept off shore by the caretakers.
Take advantage of Diani’s all year friendly weather to pursue Kayaking, skiing, kite surfing or stand up paddling. Most of these adventures do not require swimming lessons or prior experience. Most Hotels along the coast organize them for guests at a fee. As expected, this could cost just a little more compared to if you hired them directly from the service providers. However, it’s wiser to let them take charge. They know the agencies with the most dependable options. Hakuna Matata, if you prefer to organize the excursion by yourself, an hour’s excursion of either of the mentioned activities ranges roughly between $10-$50. This is dependent on the agency you’ll contract and the tourism season.
Glass boat tour
If you desire for a National Geographic moment, a visit of the ocean in boats with glass bottoms will light up your world. The water is clear for much of the year. This allows unlimited views of the marine life at the oceans floor/reef (unless the boat has algae underneath). Due to effects of refraction, you are bound to think most of the creatures are right underneath the boat. It is until you take a dip that you’ll realize they are yards away. The Excursion costs an average of $15.
Visit to monkey sanctuary
Usually when I see “Conservancy”, I think tourist trap. Colubus conservancy is certainly not one. It is a very lovely place tucked in the coastal forest. This place is a research base, information centre and primate rescue facility. It is a small conservatory, but well maintained and unique. It offers guided Eco-tours. During the tour, one gets to see vervets, sykes and baboons as they jump from one branch to another like Spiderman. The birds that take shelter under her towering canopies are so beautiful and the scenery is so peaceful. Chances are high you’ll come across staff at work, caring for injured monkeys or doing research. They are open from 8am-50pm all week except for Sundays.
The tour costs 250 Kenyan shillings, 100 Kenyan shillings for adults and children between 6 and 11 respectively. It is free for Children under 6.
Duruma village tour
The best way to immerse one’s self in local cultures of Diani is by mingling with the Duruma, one of the nine tribes that complete Mijikenda chiefdom. Many from this tribe of farmers offer homestay experiences tailored to treat tourists to a mix of their Arabic and Swahili cultures. One such is Bakari, a tour guide who is informative and answers questions comprehensively. Experiences at his homestead range from learning how Durum local foods are prepared to learning traditions that spice up their marriages. You can also join his wife and daughters in the garden as they tend to it. The experience is usually crowned with a great array of dances with stories that go with them. It is very entertaining cultural show.
Exploring Baobab trees
Naturally, one would expect a tree’s root to be tacked in the ground and its foliage up in the air. However when you look at a baobab tree, the reverse is true. It looks like it grew upside down. What’s more, there are countless of them in Diani. Taking a picture by them doesn’t come at any cost. While at it, you could join hands with three friends and try to hug one of them. Chances are high you will be only hug half of it. It is that big, with a whooping height ranging from 16 to 98 ft and a circumference over 40 meters wide.
What particularly fascinates me the most about this wonder plant is its ability to store up to 120,000 liters of water in their trunks!
Food: Sampling coconut and sea food
Exquisite, exquisite, exquisite!!! The array of sea food that this town has to offer cannot be missed. The crabs are so fresh and literally melt in your mouth. The oysters and lobsters too don’t disappoint. Most eateries present these foods in a way—that overwhelms you even for one who is not a big fan of sea food. They (sea food) are so beautiful that you would feel guilty watching them disappear off your platter for burial in your stomach.
The weird thing about this town is that seafood served at the shacks is much tastier than the ones served in star hotels. The only silly thing that lets them down is the dessert they complement meals with. It is usually items that taste a bit old and dry.
That said; this did not spoil my overall experience as they had fresh coconut juice as a substitute. I haven’t yet gotten over its cream-like texture and a massive flavor like a cocktail of fresh pineapple and apple.
Snorkeling at Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park
During my previous snorkeling excursion at Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park in 2006, I didn’t get to see much. The ocean was rough. Accordingly, I didn’t expect any wow moments when I took another two hours south of Diani to get to it last October. Things were different this time. There were lots of new companies offering the excursion for as low as $50 per person for a three hours excursion. That aside, there were lots of dolphins in sight, but certainly not as many as the fish species, sea turtles and whales. I didn’t get their names right though. I guess I got so carried away by the simplicity of the local boat we used for the expedition and forgot to pay attention to anything else.
From afar, they looked like a small ship belonging to pirates. It seemed built of tough and resilient silver that can counter any storm or any bullets fired at it. On the inside though, it was basic. Except for its floor which was made of hard wood, the rest of the parts were a patch up of frail materials like mats and soft wood. For East African Nationals, entrance fee to the park is KSH 215 for adults and KSH125 for children, For residents it is KSH300 for adults and KSH 170 for children and lastly $17 and $13 for foreign travellers who don’t stay in Kenya. Budget snorkeling excursions cost roughly $30 per person.
You don’t need to rob a bank in order to afford a happy stay in Diani. Yes it is true most of the tour operators mostly target middle range and high end tourists, but there is also a niche that targets budget travellers. For instance, there are over 20 guesthouses in town that offer comfortable accommodation for as a little as $20.
Thanks to its location along the Equator, Diani is humid for much of the year. It’s longest rainy season is in April and May. In June, the rains are on and off and thus nothing to worry about if this is the only time you can visit the beach destination. On the other hand, its highest average temperature is 32 degree Celsius during the days in January and February. The coolest months are June, July and August with an average day temperature of 27 degrees Celsius.
Where to buy crafts
If you want a wide variety of crafts at affordable prices, the roadside stalls are worth a visit. They are make-shift in nature and thus operate mostly at day time.
How to get there
By Air: Diani is served by a small airstrip called Ukunda. Air Kenya offers daily flights to there from National. A round trip costs roughly $290.